Punishment: Massacre (Possibly of Europeans) by ImpalementBy: Philip Baldaeus Item #: 9048955
- About the Product
- About the Artist
- Customer Reviews
Punishment: Massacre (possibly of Europeans) by impalement, from 'Beschreibung der Ost Indischen Kusten Malabar und Coromandel... als auch der Insel Zeylon...', pub. 1672 (engraving), Baldaeus, Philip (1632-1672) / Private Collection / The Stapleton Colle
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
For other uses, see Impale (disambiguation).penetration of an organism by an object such as a stake, pole, spear or hook, by complete (or partial) perforation of the body, often the central body mass. This article has a primary focus on impalement as a form of execution, how it was performed, and highlighting some places where it was used. The included literature suggests that impalement across a number of cultures was regarded as a very harsh form of capital punishment, as it was used particularly in response to "crimes against the state". Impalement is mentioned as a punishment within the context of war, such as with the suppression of rebels, punishment of traitors or collaborators, or for breaches of military discipline.
Contempt for the state's responsibility for safe roads and trade routes by committing highway robbery/grave theft, violating state policies/monopolies, or subverting standards for trade are also recorded among offenses where impalement was occasionally used as punishment. For example, visiting Egypt for the first time 1657–58 Jean de Thévenot observed a man impaled for using false weights. Offenders have also been impaled for a variety of cultural, sexual and religious crimes. The Holy Roman Empire and the Ottoman Empire, whose core areas roughly corresponded to modern-day Germany and Turkey, respectively, are examples of states in which impalement was used. References to impalement are found as early as the 18th century BC, in the old cultures of the Ancient Near East, such as Babylonia, and, later on, within the Neo-Assyrian Empire. The practice of impalement is well attested into the 19th century, for example within the Ottoman Empire, with allegations of the practice reaching into the 20th century. Impalement has been a subject of myth and art. Furthermore, this article restricts itself to a treatment mainly for Old Babylonia, the Assyrian Empire, the Holy Roman Empire as well as for the Ottoman Empire.
- 1 Methods
- 2 Regional historical studies
- 3 References and notes
- 4 Bibliography
|Part of a series on|
Note: Italics indicate countries where capital punishment has not been used in the last ten years or that have a moratorium in effect.
|Methods still in use|
|Methods no longer in use|
Longitudinal impalementImpaling an individual along the body length has been documented in several cases, and the merchant Jean de Thevenot provides an eyewitness account of this, from 17th century Egypt, in the case of a man condemned to death for the use of false weights:
They lay the Malefactor upon his Belly, with his Hands tied behind his Back, then they slit up his Fundament with a Razor, and throw into it a handful of Paste that they have in readiness, which immediately stops the Blood. After that they thrust up into his Body a very long Stake as big as a Mans Arm, sharp at the point and tapered, which they grease a little before; when they have driven it in with a Mallet, till it come out at his Breast, or at his Head or Shoulders, they lift him up, and plant this Stake very streight in the Ground, upon which they leave him so exposed for a day. One day I saw a Man upon the Pale, who was Sentenced to continue so for three Hours alive and that he might not die too soon, the Stake was not thrust up far enough to come out at any part of his Body, and they also put a stay or rest upon the Pale, to hinder the weight of his body from making him sink down upon it, or the point of it from piercing him through, which would have presently killed him: In this manner he was left for some Hours, (during which time he spoke) and turning from one side to another, prayed those that passed by to kill him, making a thousand wry Mouths and Faces, because of the pain be suffered when he stirred himself, but after Dinner the Basha sent one to dispatch him; which was easily done, by making the point of the Stake come out at his Breast, and then he was left till next Morning, when he was taken down, because he stunk horridly.
- Survival time of the impaled
Transversal impalementAlternatively, the impalement could be transversally performed, for example in the frontal-to-dorsal direction, that is, from front (through abdomen, chest or directly through the heart) to back or vice versa
In the Holy Roman Empire (and elsewhere in Central/Eastern Europe), women who killed their newborn could be liable to be placed in an open grave, and have a stake hammered into their heart. A detailed description of an execution in this manner comes from 17th century Košice (then in Hungary, now in eastern Slovakia). A woman was to be executed for infanticide, the executioner had two assistants to help him. First, a grave, some one-and-a-half ell deep was dug. The woman was placed within it, her hands and feet secured by driving nails through them. Then, the executioner placed a small thorn bush upon her face. He then placed and held vertically a wooden stave at her heart, while his assistants piled earth on the woman. Her head, though, was kept free of earth, at the behest of the clerics, because that would have quickened her death process. Once the earth had been piled upon her, the executioner grabbed with a pair of tongs a rod made of iron, which had been made red hot. He positioned the glowing iron rod beside the wooden stave, and as one of his assistants hammered the rod in, the other assistant emptied a trough of earth upon the woman's head. It is said that a scream was heard, and that the earth actually moved upwards for a moment, before all was over.
Alternative methods of impalement
- Hooks in the city wall
"..but the Moors and Arabs are either impaled for the same crime, or else they are hung up by the neck, over the battlements of the city walls, or else they are thrown upon the chingan or hooks that are fixed all over the walls below, where sometimes they break from one hook to another, and hang in the most exquisite torments, thirty or forty hoursAccording to one source, these hooks in the wall as an execution method were introduced with the construction of the new city gate in 1573. Before that time, gaunching as described by de Tournefort was in use. As for the actual frequency of throwing persons on hooks in Algiers, Capt. Henry Boyde notes that in his own 20 years of captivity there, he knew of only one case where a Christian slave who had murdered his master had met that fate, and "not above" two or three Moors besides. Taken captive in 1596, the barber-surgeon William Davies relates something of the heights involved when thrown upon hooks (although it is somewhat unclear if this relates specifically to the city of Algiers, or elsewhere in the Barbary States): "Their ganshing is after this manner: he sitteth upon a wall, being five fathoms high, within two fathoms of the top of the wall; right under the place where he sits, is a strong iron hook fastened, being very sharp; then he is thrust off the wall upon this hook, with some part of his body, and there he hangeth, sometimes two or three days, before he dieth." Davies adds that "these deaths are very seldom", but that he had personally witnessed it 
- Hanged by the ribs
- The "bamboo torture"
Main article: Bamboo tortureA recurring horror story on many websites and popular media outlets is that Japanese soldiers during World War II inflicted bamboo torture upon prisoners of war. The victim was supposedly tied securely in place above a young bamboo shoot. Over several days, the sharp, fast growing shoot would first puncture, then completely penetrate the victim's body, eventually emerging through the other side. The cast of the TV program MythBusters investigated bamboo torture in a 2008 episode and found that a bamboo shoot can penetrate through several inches of ballistic gelatin in three days. For research purposes, ballistic gelatin is considered comparable to human flesh, and the experiment thus supported the viability of this form of torture, if not its historicity.
Regional historical studies
- Babylonia and other archaic societies
- Neo-Assyrian Empire
"I cut off their hands, I burned them with fire, a pile of the living men and of heads over against the city gate I set up, men I impaled on stakes, the city I destroyed and devastated, I turned it into mounds and ruin heaps, the young men and the maidens in the fire I burned"Paul Kern, in his (1999) "Ancient Siege Warfare" provides some statistics on how different Neo-Assyrian kings from the times of Ashurnasirpal II commemorated their punishments of rebels
Although impalement of rebels and enemies is particularly well-attested from Neo-Assyrian times, the 14th century BC Mitanni king Shattiwaza charges his predecessor, the usurper Shuttarna III for having delivered unto the (Middle) Assyrians several nobles, who had them promptly impaled. Some scholars have said, though, that it is only with king Ashur-bel-kala (r.1074-1056) that we have solid evidence that punishments like flaying and impaling came into use. From the Middle Assyrian period, we have evidence about impalement as a form of punishment relative to other types of perceived crimes as well. The law code discovered and deciphered by Dr. Otto Schroeder contains in its paragraph 51 the following injunction against abortion:
If a woman with her consent brings on a miscarriage, they seize her, and determine her guilt. On a stake they impale her, and do not bury her; and if through the miscarriage she dies, they likewise impale her and do not bury her
- Ambiguous Biblical evidence
Other passages in the Bible allude to the practice of impalement, such as II Samuel 21:9, concerning the fate of the sons of Saul.
- "I see crosses there, not just of one kind but made differently by different [fabricators]; some individuals suspended their victims with heads inverted toward the ground; some drove a stake (stipes) through their excretory organs/fenitlas; others stretched out their [victims'] arms on a patibulum [cross bar]; I see racks, I see lashes..."
- "Video istic cruces ne unius quidem generis sed aliter ab aliis fabricatas; capite quidam conuersos in terram suspendere, alii per obscena stipitem egerunt, alii brachia patibulo explicuerunt; video fidiculas, video uerbera..." 
Holy Roman Empire/Central and Eastern Europe
- Transversal impalement
Rapists of virgins/children are also attested to have been buried alive, with a stake driven through them. In one such judicial tradition, the rapist was to be placed in an open grave, and the rape victim was ordered to make the three first strokes on the stake herself; the executioners then finishing the impalement procedure. Serving as an example of the fate of a child molester, the 1. August 1465 in Zurich, Switzerland, Ulrich Moser was condemned to be impaled, for having sexually violated 6 girls between the ages four and nine. His clothes were taken off, and he was placed on his back. His arms and legs were stretched out, each secured to a pole. Then a stake was driven through his navel down into the ground. Thereafter, people left him to die.
- Longitudinal impalement
Individuals perceived of collaborating with the enemy have, on occasion, been impaled. For example, during the 30 years' war in 1632, the German officer Fuchs was impaled on suspicion of defecting to the Swedish, a Swedish corporal was likewise impaled for trying to defect to the Germans, whereas in 1654, under the Ottoman siege of the Venetian garrison at Crete, several peasants were impaled for supplying proviant to the besieged. Likewise in 1685, some Christians were impaled by the Hungarians for having provianteered the Turks.
In 1677, a particularly brutal German General Kops leading the forces of Holy Roman Emperor Leopold I designed to keep Hungary dominated by the Germans, rather than to become dominated by the Turks, began impaling and quartering his Hungarian subjects/opponents. An opposing general for the Hungarians, Wesselényi, responded in kind, by flaying alive Imperial troops, and fixing sharp iron hooks in fortress walls, upon which he threw captured Germans to be impaled. Finally, Emperor Leopold I had had enough of the mutual bloodshed, and banished Kops in order to establish a needed cessation of hostilities. After the Treaty of The Hague (1720), Sicily fell under Habsburg rule, but the locals deeply resented the German overlords. One parish priest (who exhorted his parishioners to kill the Germans) is said to have broken into joy when a German soldier arrived at his village, exclaiming it was gone a whole eight days since last he killed a German, and shot the soldier off his horse. The priest was later impaled. In the short-lived 1784 Horea Revolt against the Austrians and Hungarians, the rebels gained hold of two officers they promptly impaled. On their side, the imperial troops got hold of Horea's 13 year old son, and impaled him. That seems to have merely inflamed the rebel leader's determination, although the revolt was quashed shortly afterwards.
From 1748 and onwards, German regiments organized manhunts on "robbers" in Hungary/Croatia, impaling those caught.
- The execution of Paul Wasansky in 1570
Paul Wasansky, who in 1570 was executed in Ivančice in nowadays Czech Republic on account of 124 confessed murders (he was a roaming highwayman), underwent a particularly gruelling execution procedure: First, his limbs were cut off and his nipples were ripped off with glowing pincers. He was then flayed, afterwards impaled and finally roasted alive. The pamphlet, which purports to give Wasansky's verbatim confession, does not record how Wasansky was apprehended, nor what means of torture was used to extract his confessions.
Wallachia, the case of DraculaVlad III ("Dracula"), Prince of Wallachia, is credited as the first notable figure to prefer this method of execution during the late medieval period, and became so notorious for its liberal employment that among his several nicknames he was known as Vlad the Impaler. After being orphaned, betrayed, forced into exile and pursued by his enemies, he retook control of Wallachia in 1456. He dealt harshly with his enemies, especially those who had betrayed his family in the past, or had profited from the misfortunes of Wallachia. Though a variety of methods was employed, he has been most associated with his use of impalement. The liberal use of capital punishment was eventually extended to Saxon settlers, members of a rival clan, and criminals in his domain, whether they were members of the boyar nobility or peasants, and eventually to any among his subjects that displeased him. Following the multiple campaigns against the invading Ottoman Turks, Vlad would never show mercy to his prisoners of war. The road to Vlad's capital of Wallachia eventually became inundated in a "forest" of 20,000 impaled and decaying corpses, and it is reported that Mehmet II's invading army of Turks turned back to Constantinople in 1462 after encountering thousands of impaled corpses along the Danube River. Woodblock prints from the era portray his victims impaled from either the frontal or the dorsal aspect, but not vertically.
He let children be roasted; those, their mothers were forced to eat. And (he) cut off the breasts of women; those, their husbands were forced to eat. After that, he had them all impaled
Ottoman EmpireLongitudinal impalement is an execution method often attested within the Ottoman Empire, for a variety of offenses, and a review of some typical cases follows below.
- Siege of Constantinople
- Civil crimes
Highway robbers were still impaled into the 1830s, but one source says the practice was rare by then. Travelling to Smyrna and Constantinople in 1843, Stephen Massett was told by a man who witnessed the event, that "just a few years ago", a dozen or so robbers were impaled at Adrianople. All of them, however, had been strangled prior to impalement. Writing around 1850, the archaeologist Austen Henry Layard mentions that the latest case he was acquainted with happened "about ten years ago" in Baghdad, on four rebel Arab sheikhs.
Impalement of pirates, rather than highway robbers, is also occasionally recorded. In October 1767, for example, Hassan Bey, who had preyed on Turkish ships in the Euxine Sea for a number of years, was captured and impaled, even though he had offered 500.000 ducats for his pardon
- Klephts and rebels in Greece
Impalement was, on occasion, aggravated with being set over a fire, the impaling stake acting as a spit, so that the impaled victim might be roasted alive. Among other severities, Ali Pasha, an Albanian-born Ottoman noble who ruled Ioannina, had rebels, criminals, and even the descendants of those who had wronged him or his family in the past, impaled and roasted alive. For example, Thomas Smart Hughes, visiting Greece and Albania in 1812–13, says the following about his stay in Ioannina:
"Here criminals have been roasted alive over a slow fire, impaled, and skinned alive; others have had their extremities chopped off, and some have been left to perish with the skin of the face stripped over their necks. At first I doubted the truth of these assertions, but they were abundantly confirmed to me by persons of undoubted veracity. Some of the most respectable inhabitants of loannina assured me that they had sometimes conversed with these wretched victims on the very stake, being prevented from yielding to their torturing requests for water by fear of a similar fate themselves. Our own resident, as he was once going into the serai of Litaritza, saw a Greek priest, the leader of a gang of robbers, nailed alive to the outer wall of the palace, in sight of the whole city."During the Greek War of Independence (1821–1832), Athanasios Diakos, a klepht and later a rebel military commander, was captured after the Battle of Alamana (1821), near Thermopylae, and after refusing to convert to Islam and join the Ottoman army, he was impaled, and died after three days. Diakos became a martyr for a Greek independence and was later honored as a national hero.
One of the worst atrocities committed by the Greeks was the massacre following the Siege of Tripolitsa in October 1821, where several thousands were massacred, many impaled and roasted. To believe, however, that the massacre at Tripolitsa was the only, or the first atrocity committed by the Greeks would be wrong. Just two months earlier, in August 1821, for example, about the same time that some 40 Ionians were impaled by the Turks, Greek insurgents chose to roast at least as many Turks alive at Hydra William St Clair, in his "That Greece Might Still Be Free" warns against the skewed perception the Greek War of Independence received in Europe, and writes:
The Turkish atrocities against the Greek population were (...) witnessed with horror by many Europeans and soon were reported all over Europe. The initial atrocities in Greece, on the other hand, were seen by very few Europeans. If any were reported they were put down to justifiable hatred arising from extreme provocation, and explained away in the same terms as the occasional atrocities committed by European armies
- Rebels elsewhere in the Ottoman Empire
- Occurrences in genocides
Aurora Mardiganian, a survivor of the Armenian genocide of 1915–1923, recalled sixteen young Armenian girls being "crucified" by their Ottoman tormentors. The film "Auction of Souls" (1919), which was based on her book "Ravished Armenia", showed the victims nailed to crosses. However, almost 70 years later Mardiganian revealed that the scene was inaccurate and went on to describe what was actually an impalement:
"The Turks didn't make their crosses like that. The Turks made little pointed crosses. They took the clothes off the girls. They made them bend down, and after raping them, they made them sit on the pointed wood, through the vagina. That's the way they killed - the Turks. Americans have made it a more civilized way. They can't show such terrible things."A Russian clergyman visiting ravaged Christian villages in northwestern Persia during the Assyrian genocide found the remains of several impaled people. He notes: "The bodies were so firmly fixed, in some instances, that the stakes could not be withdrawn; it was necessary to saw them off and bury the victims as they were."
History astride a bridge
The Calvetti Bridge can easily go unnoticed. It is not an architectural marvel, just a narrow, barely 14 or 15 metres long, rundown bridge over a stagnant waterway. But then this bridge is the most famous, the most strategic, among the five bridges that once connected British Kochi to the State or the native state.
On the bridge, a mingling of the stench from the torpid canal, the aroma of spices wafting in from the bazaar, and the distinct smell of the backwaters hits you. A lone country craft lies anchored close to the canal wall. This bridge, across the Calvetti canal, separated Fort Kochi, once under British control and native state directly under the Maharaja of Cochin. Till as recently as the late 1970s all the products of the region – spices, rice bamboo, vegetables and fruits – arrived by country boats to the many godowns or warehouses located close to the canal. The canal, bridge, the whole Calvetti area was abuzz with activity.
In the past huge boats and barges reached the busy harbour that was located at one end of Calvetti. The crowded streets throbbed with life as merchants loaded their wares on to the waiting boats. Trade flourished and there was a long line of trading houses, belonging to the British East India Company, which dotted these streets. This waterway that flowed under the bridge, was the link to the distant lands across the seas.
Calvetti has been spelt differently by various historians and many also differ on the meaning and origin of the name . So we have this place referred to as Calvathy, Kalvathy, Calvetty in various books and publications. “It is believed that Calvetti came from the Arab word Havat, which means open or vacant space. History records the advent of the early Moplahs to Cochin. They found an open space to build a mosque and gradually they inhabited this area which gradually took the name Calvetti,” says M.A. Aboobacker, Retd. Deputy Development Commissioner and Director (Retd.) Kudumbasree, Central Region.
The Madras Manual of Administration interprets the word Calvetti to mean stone cutter. But V.K. Raman Menon, who has supplied an exhaustive note on this subject, writes that the name means hangman’s canal or island from the Malayalam word kazhu ettuka or impale. In fact, impalement, not hanging, was the ancient mode of execution. And executions took place close to the Calvetti Canal. (Ref. Travels in India by Jean Baptiste Tavernier).
“I remember that a canal too existed here for the boats that passed through the Calvetti Canal. And this was there till the 70s. I have heard that permits were required for people to cross the bridge to go to British Cochin. The State area, the present Mattancherry, was crowded. There were thatched houses, godowns and a busy market. Living conditions on this side of the bridge were terrible as mentioned in William Logan’s Malabar Manual. He writes about the ‘insanitary moplah quarter of Kalvetti.’ And this area was a standing menace to the health of the place with cholera and smallpox periodically ravaging the area . After the Great Fire of 1889 that destroyed godowns and the houses, a law prohibiting construction of thatched houses came into being,” informs Aboobacker.
History lurks at every corner of Calvetti, almost every building on either side of the bridge has tales that can fill up pages of Kochi history. The Fort Kochi branch of State Bank of India that has a history of over 100 years, the Calvetti Mosque, the trading company buildings, the first wharf, the Calvetti Bridge itself are historic places that dot this area.
“This was the place where Vasco Da Gama landed. The British side of the bridge had some top class shops that was usually frequented only by them. There was a hotel, built by the Dutch, active during the British rule, but stopped functioning after the housekeeper complained that he did not have funds to maintain it. There used to be flagstaff and a traveller’s bungalow. The Imperial Bank, trading companies, godowns, the busy canal, goods being brought in boats and barges, Calvetti was a fulcrum of trade and commerce,” says V.N. Venugopal, local historian.
The bank building, established in 1862 as the Bank of Madras, as a branch of one of their Presidency Banks, was Kerala's first ever commercial bank. It later merged with the Imperial Bank of India in 1921 and in 1955 became State Bank of India. In his work Flashes of Kerala History, historian K.L. Bernard adds that the palatial bank building was earlier the Calvetti Palace. “There is an account of how Rani Gangadhara Lakshmi, the first and only woman ruler of the erstwhile Cochin State, who was watching a fierce battle against the Dutch being fought in front of the palace, was captured by Henrick Van Rheede (A Survey of Kerala History by A. Sreedhara Menon),” adds Venugopal.
K.J. Sohan, chairman, Town Planning Standing Committee, Corporation of Cochin, says that the Calvetti Bridge was and still is a link between two diverse worlds; different ‘socially, culturally, politically.’ He also recounts some interesting incidents. “These days when there are debates on prohibition, it is significant to note that after Mahatma Gandhi’s proclamation for prohibition the once British Cochin area implemented it to the letter. Toddy shops were picketed and shut down. There was total prohibition. On the other side of the Calvetti Bridge this was not in force. So those who wanted a swig or wanted toddy for their appams had to either go the other side, drink and return. There was always the risk of being accosted by the police on the Fort Kochi side. People also used to smuggle toddy across the bridge.”
There is this popular song by H. Mehaboob who never tired of singing about Kochi. It spoke of those days when trading companies flourished and sprouted at Calvetti.
“Pierce Leslie, Aspinwall, Volkhart, H&C, Madura Company, Bombay Company... ” Mehaboob lists most of them. He sings of the huge ships that came in and took away our rubber, coir, spices, tea and of the busy, crowded bazaars. All this is memory now. Most buildings in this area and the roads leading to the Calvetti Bridge are protected sites. But the historic bridge, in urgent need of repair, however does not come into this category. “The bridge certainly needs to be maintained. What we require are strong byelaws that will help such conservation initiatives. Perhaps even the State Bank of India can think of exhibiting the historic artefacts, like the ledgers that are now authoritative documents in Indian banking, antique weights and measures which they have in their possession. They will reveal so much about the history of Kochi,” feels Sohan.
Keywords: Calvetti Bridge, Hidden histories column,
- Watch Full Length Malayalam Movie Kandam Becha Kottu release in year 1961. Directed by T R Sundaram, Music by Baburaj ...
- Watch Full Length Malyalam Movie - Subaidha 1965 starring Madhu, Jose Prakash and Devika. Directed by M.S. Mani. Music by ...
- Christmas Rathri - Malayalam Old Movie.
- Harischandra - Malayalam Old Full Movie - Thikkurisi Sukumaran Nair&Kumari.
- Bhaktha Kujela a Black and White Superhit Malayalam Full Movie.Directed and Produced by P Subrahmanyam in the banner Nila ...
- Padatha Painkili a Superhit Black and White Malayalam Movie.Produced and Directed by P Subrahmanyam, Released in the ...